Saturday, March 5, 2011

Humanspace Playtest Draft Rules

Humanspace Empires Playtest Draft

I have edited the download link above to access the Revised Draft Rules.
Errata for the original draft may also be downloaded. 

The draft playtest rules for Humanspace Empires, science fantasy adventures in the star-faring ancient past of Professor M.A.R. Barker's Tékumel, are linked above as a free pdf download.

These rules include character generation, PSY and Super-Scientific powers, and sufficient combat and adventuring rules to get a party through a space dungeon. The system is essentially an iteration of my Synthetic 75 Science Fantasy Retro Roleplaying concept, a mash up of (what I consider) the best from the hottest RPGs of 1975, Dungeons & Dragons and Prof. M.A.R. Barker's Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne.

Rules for robot and android characters have not been included in this draft.  I'm still not quite sure how to implement this class but I will post rules for the class on this blog or in a revised version of the playtest draft in the near future. Also, rules for starships, starship combat, wilderness or planetary adventures, and additional setting material will be gradually posted here and included in future publications.

I still envision the complete game pretty much as described in this post. The draft playtest rules will be expanded with additional material and will constitute Book 1: Science Fantasy Adventures. Book 2: Space Monsters will include a selection of inimical alien fiends, bug-eyed monsters, inter-dimensional horrors, and other terrible creatures and a system for randomly generating new space monsters.  Until this book is completed playtesters may use the Saturday Night Specials, create their own original space monsters, or modify creatures from Labyrinth Lord or broadly compatible games to serve as foes for the players. Book 3: Campaigns in Space and on Alien Planets will include starships and system ships, spaceship combat, vehicles, more detailed rules for planetary adventuring, encounter tables, and substantial setting material that will detail the worlds and star-faring civilizations of the 621st century AD.

Editing of the playtest draft was pretty minimal as the booklet was sort of rushed into production, hopefully to allow for some playtesting at an rpg con in the near future. Please let me know if you spot any problems or issues (I know of a few already) and I'd really like to hear any playtest reports.

I'm hoping that these rules will stir up some more interest in this project and enable a greater exchange of ideas on generalities and specifics as work continues on the game. I would also appreciate any contributions of rules, setting material, original art depicting the various species of Tekumel as they appear in the 621st century AD. As this is a free fan publication, no moneys will be involved, but you will certainly gain my gratitude and credit in the published work.

So please download, read, play, enjoy, and let me know what you think. Stay tuned to IX for more of Humanspace in the coming days...


  1. Absolutely my weekend gift! Thanks for doing this!
    I realize that all of the hard work you put into this! Awesome! Can't tell you how excited I'm to have another science fiction retro clone out there.

  2. @Omlet: The link is the word "Download" right below the image. It took me a couple of seconds to find myself. I recommend Drune tries to change the color of the font or underlines it.

    Thanks again Drune for getting this out for us.

    As I'm printing this out, I'm bouncing off the walls with glee. I've got an adventure idea that I want to run at GaryCon III as a playtest game. After I finish with some homework, I'm going to start writing up my first space dungeon in earnest.

  3. Pretty cool. It captures a retro psychedelic version of SciFi space adventures.

  4. Very cool! I dig the cover.

  5. Oh hell yes! This is dang tasty, amigo. I'm not well-versed in Tekumel, but I'm digging what I see all the same.

    Just yesterday I hypothesized using my own Demons of Adad Untashin a scifi game, and it looks like this would be a perfect match for them.

    Consider me a sucker for the rest of this project! Oh, and I love love love the art.

  6. Very cool! Be sure to fix the OGL before it's done. You don't list the SRDs, and there is material in there lifted from Labyrinth Lord, so you'll need to list the copyright info from that book also in the OGL.

  7. Thanks for all the feedback. I've noticed quite a few typos and major omissions that I missed before posting. I neglected to include Experience rules and the rules for critical hits and failures in combat. Noting Dan of Earth's comment I will probably post a slightly revised version with fixed OGL and other corrections later today or tomorrow. I may wait a while to see if anyone points out problems I've missed. I will also post an errata in case someone already printed the booklet and would rather not reprint the whole thing. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    @Dan of the Earth: I will fix the OGL as stated above. Sorry for the bits that plagiarize Labyrinth Lord. This one done in some sections for expediency and the final book will see these sections revised.

  8. Fan-friggin'-tastic. We should organize a PbP or Skype one-shot to test drive.

  9. Shiny! I can't wait to give it a read.

  10. @ckutalik Oh definitely! Especially if it's a Skype game.

    @Drune: One thing I noticed that was missing from the PC races: Hláka.

  11. @ckutalik That would be very cool. I was planning on running a pbp or pbem game in the near future. If someone else wants to run something sooner I'd be interested.

    @ Risus Monkey: Please do and let me know what you think.

    @Schoolmaster: Good eye...I actually left the Hlaka (and the Urunen) out intentionally because their homeworlds are very far away from the core of Humanspace and there are just being contacted in the 621st century. I will probably include them as playable races in the final version though...

  12. @The Dune: Please do not apologize, I realized after my post that using the word "lifted" has connotations I didn't intend. The material you used from Labyrinth Lord is open game content and you are most certainly welcome to use it to help build your game--that's what it's there for! ;-) My only point is that you need to document it with the OGL, which I can help you with also if you need some pointers. Just let me know.

  13. @SM
    I play in a bi-weekly LL Skype game maybe we can rustle up some players for a one-shot.

  14. I am impressed. One quick note, I think something has slipped here:

    "Páchi Léi characters must have a DEX of 12 or
    higher Males are deep black in color and
    females are bone white, Their heads are long
    and slender, with two large green eyes, a
    tapering proboscis, and two fan-like ‘ears’ at
    the rear of the skull. and a CHA no greater
    than 9. They are unlimited in their
    advancement in any class. Their night vision
    extends to a range of 120 feet,"

  15. Wow! Thanks very much for all of your efforts!

  16. First impressions...

    Six kinds of awesome.

    More specifically...
    * Love the pulp artwork, especially the cover.
    * But some of the art is too pixelated. I can't really read the Humanspace map.
    * Nice choice of heading font.
    * Like the roll to improve attributes on advancement.
    * Dig how you handle alignment.
    * All the races are suitably weird.
    * I like how you handle skills.

    Wait, I realize that I'm only commenting on stuff that I like. Probably not very useful for you going forward. Alas, I'm not feeling very critical at the moment (I've had a bit too much soju). I need to give it a closer read tomorrow. At the very least, I should say that I'd love to run a game in this setting, which is saying something because I usually prefer to build my own worlds.

    Also, not being terribly familiar with Empire of the Petal Throne, how much of this is invention and how much is from Professor Barker's imaginings? And how much of the rules are borrowed from EPT rules?

  17. @Dan of Earth: No problem. I completely understand. I've fixed the OGL in the revised draft.

    @ckutalik: Let me know if an online playtest looks possible.

    @Scott Pasha: Thanks. I think that resulted from formatting. It is fixed in the revised draft.

    @Ragnardbard: It's a labor of love...I hope someone plays it.

    @Risus Monkey: Thanks for the comments. I may need whole posts to thoroughly answer your questions though. In brief, the sum total of all EPT materials included maybe a page or so of information on the star-faring ancients. The various aliens, their descriptions and the locations of their homeworlds are all from EPT and the imagination of Prof. Barker. There are references in the original material to Humanspace and the Veritable Autocrator was identified as the ruler of Humanspace when Tekumel was discovered and colonized. There are ancient artifacts like Eyes and references to other tech like the Three=Light Drive and Interfogulators. I have used every fragment that I could find and tried to expand upon them.

    The major borrowings from the 1975 EPT rules are in the character generation chapter. The classes, 'magic' and skills systems are very similar to EPT; however, I turned the Priest into the Astronaut and the Magician into the Scientist. I also included the Adventurer class that was presented in an early Dragon magazine. Many of the mechanics for these rules were percentile based in EPT and I converted them to d20.

  18. Thanks a lot for your work. You may want to take a look at an old french illustrator who did a lot of SF book covers in the fifties :

  19. Downloaded! Preparing to upload into brain server in 3...2...


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